Penal Code 1170 | Felony Sentencing


Penal Code 1170 – Felony Sentencing

What’s up! This article will explain felony sentencing under California Penal Code 1170. We’ll break it down in simple terms, looking at how it works, recent changes, factors considered, and more. No fancy legal talk here!

What is Felony Sentencing Under PC 1170?

Penal Code 1170 covers the sentencing for felony convictions in California [1]. It provides guidelines on:

  • The length of felony prison terms
  • Aggravating and mitigating factors
  • Enhancements that can increase sentences
  • Consecutive vs. concurrent sentences

Judges use PC 1170 to determine the appropriate felony sentence within the statutory range.

Determinate vs. Indeterminate Sentencing

There are two types of felony sentencing under PC 1170 [3]:

  • Determinate – Fixed length, like 5 years
  • Indeterminate – Range, like 25 years to life

Which applies depends on the felony. Examples:

  • Robbery – Determinate sentence
  • Murder – Indeterminate life sentence

How do Judges Determine Felony Sentences?

When deciding sentences, judges consider [1]:

  • Sentencing guidelines and ranges
  • Aggravating factors like prior convictions
  • Mitigating factors like mental illness
  • Victim impact statements
  • Probation department recommendations

They have discretion to impose lower, middle, or upper term sentences based on the case facts.

Recent Changes to Felony Sentencing Laws

Some recent changes to PC 1170 include [4]:

  • Limits on certain enhancements like prior prison terms
  • Judges can strike enhancements in interests of justice
  • Presumption that low term shall be imposed for most offenses

These aimed to reduce lengthy sentences and incarceration rates.

Aggravating Factors Under PC 1170

Aggravating factors that may increase a sentence include [1]:

  • Prior criminal record
  • Injury to multiple victims
  • Taking advantage of a position of trust
  • Sophistication indicating premeditation
  • Serving a prior prison term

These make a defendant seem more culpable or dangerous.

Mitigating Factors Under California PC 1170

Mitigating factors that may reduce a sentence include [1]:

  • No prior criminal record
  • Committed crime under threat or coercion
  • Played a minor role in the crime
  • Was legally insane or mentally ill
  • Unlikely to reoffend

These make a defendant seem less culpable.

Enhancements Under Penal Code 1170

Sentence enhancements that can add years include [1]:

  • Prior serious or violent felony – PC 667
  • Personal use of a firearm – PC 12022.5
  • Hate crime – PC 422.75
  • Habitual offender – PC 667.7

These typically add 3-10 years extra per enhancement.

Consecutive vs. Concurrent Sentencing

Under PC 1170, judges decide whether multiple sentences run [1]:

  • Consecutive – One after the other
  • Concurrent – Simultaneously

Consecutive sentencing leads to longer total incarceration when convicted of multiple felonies.

How Parole Eligibility Works

For indeterminate sentences, parole eligibility is affected by [1]:

  • Minimum eligible parole date
  • Seriousness of the felony
  • Sentence enhancements
  • In-prison behavior

An attorney can estimate likely parole eligibility dates.

Felony Sentencing Example Cases

Some examples of PC 1170 sentencing:

  • People v. Clark – Clark got 6 years for robbery plus 10 years for a prior. The judge ran them concurrent so total sentence was 10 years.
  • People v. Miller – Miller got 9 years for assault plus 25 to life for murder, running consecutively. His parole eligibility was around 18 years.

Fighting Felony Sentencing

To potentially reduce a felony sentence, make sure to:

  • Hire an experienced criminal defense attorney
  • Dispute any questionable aggravating factors
  • Present evidence of mitigating factors
  • Challenge applicable enhancements

An attorney can also argue for concurrent rather than consecutive sentencing if convicted of multiple felonies.